Michael Sandel's current book, What Money Can't Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets, is an eloquent statement of some very basic moral convictions that many people share about the subject. His basic idea is that it is morally obnoxious to think of all goods as being best distributed through a market mechanism -- through a price, a seller, and a buyer. In an interview on NPR this week he made the point very eloquently: we are moving from a market economy to a market society; moving from looking at the market mechanism as an important social tool, to looking at it as the supreme social value. He argues that this movement in values and thought has the result of crowding out more substantive moral values....Understanding Society
Sandel's sociological insight is this: markets subvert many values by commercializing social relationships.....Many economists now recognize that markets change the character of the goods and social practices they govern....So Sandel calls upon us, as Karl Polanyi did fifty years ago in The Great Transformation: The Political and Economic Origins of Our Time, to re-tune our moral antenna, and to recognize that there are moral and social values that are far deeper and far more important than price and market.
Social obligations and markets
Daniel Little | Chancellor, University of Michigan-Dearborn